Banksy’s subversive art draws tourists and locals in Paris

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A boy looks at a recent artwork by street artist Banksy in Paris. (AFP)
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A man walks past a recent artwork by street artist Banksy in Paris. (AFP)
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A man walks past a recent artwork by street artist Banksy in Paris. (AFP)
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Anonymous street artist Banksy’s artwork of a girl painting over a swastika cross has reportedly been first found on World Refugee Day, on June 20, in northern Paris near a former center of initial reception for refugees. (AFP)
Updated 09 July 2018
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Banksy’s subversive art draws tourists and locals in Paris

PARIS: British graffiti artist Banksy, known for his politically charged sketches on walls from London to New York to Gaza City, has descended on Paris, painting a series of murals that are sparking debate among residents and tourists.
The satirical images, tackling issues such as migration and poverty, began popping up late last month. The secretive artist has since posted photographs of them on his Instagram account and added comments, confirming his authorship.
One mural, on a street in northern Paris where migrants often sleep rough, shows a black girl spray-painting pink wallpaper over a swastika. The painting has since been defaced to make it look like she is drawing the swastika herself.
Others depict rats, a common Banksy motif, including one flying through the air on the back of a champagne cork, and a pair walking under a parasol near the Eiffel Tower.
One of the most provocative, painted near the Sorbonne, on the trendy Left Bank, shows a stern man with a hand-saw hidden behind his back offering a bone to a pleading dog that has had part of its front leg sawn off.
Vincent, the director of an art foundation in Paris, stopped to take a picture as he headed for lunch.
“This painting is of an unspeakable cruelty which is representative of the times in which we live, times of wantons,” said the 49-year-old.
“The man’s stare is empty and cold, while the dog is weak and full of humanity. I think it is a clear representation of the European context and the migration crisis.”
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the May 1968 uprisings, when French students and unionists mounted violent protests across Paris and its surrounding area, bringing much of the country to a standstill for weeks.
Referencing the anniversary, Banksy painted a picture of a rat holding a stencil pen and wearing a bandana over its face on the side of a building near the Pompidou Center. Another showed a rat dressed as Mini Mouse perched on the numbers 1968.
While two of the nine murals have been defaced, most of the others have been covered by plexiglass to protect them.
Banksy concluded his series with a mural on an emergency escape door to the Bataclan, the music venue where 89 people were shot dead by Islamist militants in November 2015.
The image depicts a woman in mourning, wearing what looks like a hijab, the head scarf worn by Muslim women, although the picture also has echoes of Mother Theresa.
“This one is my favorite,” said an American tourist. “I can feel that her sadness is deep and palpable.”


Rake news: Social media ablaze on Trump’s forest remarks for Finland

Updated 19 November 2018
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Rake news: Social media ablaze on Trump’s forest remarks for Finland

  • US President Donald Trump claimed the forest-covered nation prevents wildfires by raking its forest floors
  • Raking-related terms were among the most popular Twitter hashtags and Google searches in the Nordic nation

HELSINKI: Social media in Finland was ablaze with bemused comments on Monday after US President Donald Trump claimed the forest-covered nation prevents wildfires by raking its forest floors.
Speaking to reporters during the weekend while in California to see the impact of devastating forest fires, the US president again blamed forest management, but said Finland had the answer.
Trump cited the Finnish president as telling him Finns “spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things (in the forest), and they don’t have any problem.”
However the Nordic country’s president, Sauli Niinisto, told the Ilta-Sanomat newspaper on Sunday that he had no recollection of raking being mentioned when the pair met in Paris a week ago.
“I told him that Finland is a country covered in forests, but we also have a good warning system and network,” the president said.
Finnish social media users were quick to pile in, describing Trump’s comments as “rake news” and posting pictures of themselves brandishing the garden implement.
By late Sunday, raking-related terms were among the most popular Twitter hashtags and Google searches in the Nordic nation which is 72 percent covered by forests, predominantly of pine, birch and fir.
Meanwhile Yrjo Niskanen, head of emergency preparedness at Finland’s national forest center, said the US president may have been referring to the practice of removing branches and loose material left in the forest after logging.
But he pointed out that this is not done with a rake — and the wood is collected for energy production.
“I’ve never thought before that it could be removed because of the fire risk, that’s not mentioned in any forestry manuals. It’s taken away purely for business reasons,” Niskanen told the Iltalehti newspaper.